What Is Truth? (Jn. 18:37-38)
1. When Jesus appeared before Pilate, the subject of truth was
a. Jesus claimed to bear witness to the truth - Jn 18:37
b. Pilate raised the perennial question: "What is truth?" - Jn 18:38
2. Today, many people sound a lot like Pilate...
a. A Barna Research Group survey on what Americans believe asked the
question, "Is there absolute Truth?"...
1) Sixty-six percent of adults responded that they believe that
"there is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can
define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct"
2) Seventy-two percent of those aged 18 to 25 expressed this
b. In a series of more than twenty interviews conducted at random at
a large university, people were asked if there was such a thing as
absolute truth - truth that is true across all times and cultures
for all people. All but one respondent answered along these lines:
1) "Truth is whatever you believe"
2) "There is no absolute truth"
3) "If there were such a thing as absolute truth, how could we
know what it is?"
4) "People who believe in absolute truth are dangerous"
-- Info from http://www.christianity.co.nz/truth1.htm
[What is the Christian perspective regarding truth? Is truth whatever
you believe? Can we know what is absolute truth? Let's first summarize
two basic views regarding truth...]
I. TWO VIEWS OF TRUTH
A. TRUTH CORRESPONDS TO REALITY...
1. Commonly called the "correspondence view" of truth
2. A statement is true if and only if it corresponds to or agrees
with factual reality
3. This view presupposes a law of logic called the law of
a. Any unambiguous, declarative statement must be either true
b. It cannot be neither true nor false; nor can it be both true
c. E.g., the statement "I am standing in front of you"...
1) Is true only if, in fact, I am standing here in front of
2) Must be either true or false, it cannot be both true and
4. The correspondence view of truth holds that propositional or
declarative statements are subject to verification and
a. A statement can be proven false if it can be shown to
disagree with objective reality
b. E.g., the statement "The world is flat"...
1) Is either true or false, it cannot be both
2) Photographs from space have falsified flat-earth claims
-- This view of truth was held by the vast majority of
philosophers and theologians throughout history until recently
B. TRUTH IS RELATIVE, NOT ABSOLUTE...
1. Commonly called the "relativistic view" of truth
a. What is true depends on the views of persons or cultures
b. Not on whether statements correspond to objective reality
2 For a statement to be true simply means that a person or
culture to believes it to be true; people with this view of
truth say things like:
a. "Well, if that's true for you..."
b. "We can't judge other cultures"
3. Poet Steve Turner wrote a parody of this attitude and called it
"Creed". In part he said:
I believe that each man must find the truth
that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust. History will alter.
I believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.
4. When truth is deemed dependent upon the person or culture
holding the belief, anything can become "true"); for example...
a. One person can say "Jesus is Lord" and another can say
"Allah is Lord"
b. Both statements will be true, if they accurately express the
sentiments of the speakers
c. This view seems to advance tolerance and civility, but it
does so at the expense of logic
d. The very definition of "Lord" precludes the possibility they
are both "Lord"
5. Those who say there is no absolute truth make decisions every
day based things they believe are true or false; for example...
a. They turn on a light believing in the reality of electricity
b. They drive a car believing in the effectiveness of the
c. No one flying would want to be directed by a navigator who
did not believe in the truth of his instruments
d. No one undergoing brain surgery would want to be operated on
by a surgeon who did not believe that some things about the
brain were true and some not true
6. If there are no absolutes, there is no right and wrong
a. I can kill you, steal from you, lie to you, and you can't
say it is wrong
b. Because if I believe I should do such things, and succeed,
then it works for me and it has become my personal truth
(and who are you to judge me?)
c. "In the absence of truth, power is the only game in town."
- Richard John Neuhaus
-- Despite its absurdity, this view of truth has become the
darling of all who want to be free to "do their own thing"
[Christians have historically affirmed the "correspondence view" of
truth. For good reasons, because it is consistent with...]
II. THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF TRUTH
A. BIBLICAL WORDS FOR TRUTH...
1. True (alethes) - "unconcealed, manifest...actual, true to fact"
2. True (alethinos) - "denotes 'true' in the sense of 'real,
ideal, genuine;'" - ibid.
3. Truth (aletheia)
a. "objectively, signifying 'the reality lying at the basis of
an appearance; the manifested, veritable essence of a
matter' (Cremer)" - ibid.
b. "subjectively, 'truthfulness,' 'truth,' not merely verbal,
but sincerity and integrity of character" - ibid.
-- When the Bible speaks of truth, it describes that which
corresponds to reality, what is factual and absolute, not
B. BIBLICAL STATEMENTS REGARDING TRUTH...
1. God is a God of truth - Deut 32:4
2. Jesus is the truth, and full of truth, and spoke the truth - Jn 14:6; 1:14; 8:45
3. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and guided the apostles
into all the truth - Jn 14:17; 16:13
4. The Word of God is truth - Jn 17:17
5. The judgments of God are according to truth - Ps 96:13; Ro 2:2
6. Christians should walk in the truth as revealed by Jesus,
including the standard of morality He taught - cf. Ep 4:17-32;
7. Christians should patiently teach others the truth - cf. 2 Ti 2:23-26
8. Many will turn their ears away from the truth - cf. 2Ti 4:1-4
-- Much more could be said, as the Bible reveals so much about
what is truth
1. What is truth...?
a. Truth is what is real
b. God is real, and reveals what is real
c. God is truth, and what He says is the truth
2. Call yourself what you may, but you cannot be a Christian unless...
a. You hold the correspondence view of truth
b. You believe in moral absolutes of right and wrong
c. You accept Jesus and His Word as the ultimate source of truth,
especially in regards to morality and salvation
For those willing to accept Jesus as the ultimate source of truth, they
will be greatly blessed... - cf. Jn 8:31-36